Thursday, November 29, 2012

Off the Map: Pour One for the Homie

Rice Bowl -- Revel, Seattle, WA

Of all of the Seattle Best Thing I Ever Ate places that Vodka perused on our exclusive culinary resource (Yelp), she found the looks of Revel's dishes by far the most appealing.  Loaded down with carbs and sides of soy sauce, she expected Revel to be a virtual lovefest of deliciousness.

Really Now -- Doesn't That LOOK Like a Great Idea?
Would Revel ever be able to live up to the expectations produced by the foodie masterminds on Yelp?  Well....
Never Trust Anything You Read on the Internet (...)
When Vodka and Chianti arrive at the place, we cozy up to the bar, a placement that we feel is ideal because a) we will have an entertaining view of the kitchen, and b) closer to the bar, closer to the booze, right?


Unless This Is Filled With Vodka, This Ain't Gonna Cut It
It takes a full 9 minutes for our waiter to even arrive for our drink order, and another 11 for our Laura Palmer and Lufthansa Heist to appear before us (yes -- we timed it.  The delay was THAT severe).  
Overarching Opinion on the Cocktails?  Meh
Apparently, alcoholic-based impatience causes Vodka to murmur her new favorite catchphrase ("Homie don't care"—except in this case, she clearly DID care) in a Tourettes-like fashion, and by the time we are finally able to take the first sips of our cocktails, she is decidedly disgruntled.
And If Chianti Knows Anything, It Is That Things Do Not Go Well When Vodka Becomes Disgruntled
This endless wait for our beverages has given us ample time, however, to decide on our upcoming food intake.  
Hey Kitchen - You Got Any Free Samples Over There?
And being that we have subsisted only on second rate hash and squares of chocolate all day, we are predictably ravenous.  While we are here to taste the rice bowl, as featured by Frank Bruni on the MESSY episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate (in truth, he featured the ASPARAGUS rice bowl, but Seattle and their stupid "seasonal eating" movement has stricken said asparagus from the menu), we also ask for a plethora of other dishes to tide us over.
Soooo... Revel Also Grows Its Own Grass....
First comes the garlic shrimp, chermoula, and white bean pancake, which perhaps because it arrives first (and thus when we are at our hungriest), proves to be the best dish of the night.  
Probably Not Due to the Fact That It's FRIED Or Anything....
Fried to a mild brown on the outside and crumbly with shrimp on the inside, it is essentially an upscale version of a scallion pancake.  
You Can Just Bring Over a Stack of These, Thanks
When combined with the four dipping sauces that Revel provides (the garlic soy sauce takes top prize in this assortment), it is fairly pleasing.
A Sauce Menagerie
Dip Tasting, OCD-Style
Unfortunately, by the time we taste our next choice -- the smoky mushroom, garlic chive, and sweet miso dumpling -- Vodka is beginning to doubt the veracity of the delectable-looking pictures posted on Yelp.  You see, while these dumplings LOOK appealing, in taste, they are just... odd.  
Um, Don't Think the Spoon There Is Really Gonna Cut It
Green pierogies (we mean, really -- look at the shape) stuffed to the gills with a mashed-up mushroom concoction and sprinkled with nuts), they are also impossible -- IMPOSSIBLE -- to eat in any logical way.  This trouble is not helped by the fact that Revel only provides chopsticks at each of its patrons' places, and how one is supposed to stuff this monster of a dumpling into her mouth using only two measly sticks remains a mystery of physics.
Revel Is Only For Those Gifted in Hand-Eye Coordination
Next up is the dungeness crab, seaweed noodle, creme fraiche, and spicy red curry bowl, which is overwhelming in its number of components.  Chianti laps up the contents of this dish with glee, while Vodka is decidedly less enthused.  
This Emotional Spectrum Is Pretty Much Consistent Throughout Our Entire Friendship, Actually
While the noodles themselves are pretty much perfect, they are so overwhelmed by the other ingredients that it is almost difficult to find them.  
Hey Revel - Noodles Are Vodka's FAVORITE FOOD. Don't Hide Them, Please
But fine -- no big deal, right?  These other dishes are not the reason we're here, and when our rice bowl laden down with salt and pepper grilled shitake, rapini, and turnip confit is placed before us, Vodka has only one thing to say:

"Ugh, I HATE broccoli rabe."

This dish is not off to a fortuitous start.

So Much Rabe, So Little Rice
Now, while messy dishes are decidedly not our thing, it soon becomes apparent that if Revel would just serve this concoction in a BIGGER BOWL, there would be no need for it to be messy at all.  
Does Seattle Have Some Kind of Issue With Appropriately-Sized Plates?!
As it stands, the combination of the sticky rice and overflowing ingredients makes the dish difficult to mix, and the one measly egg yolk that has been placed on top of the heap is hardly enough to penetrate the deepest crevices of the bowl.  Holding as much as we can between our chopsticks, we take our first bites...

...and taste black pepper.

Amazing We Can Taste Anything Over All That Rabe
Lots and lots of pepper.  So much pepper that even the broccoli rabe seems more palatable in comparison.  As we try to make our way deeper into the bowl, the preponderance of pepper never dissipates, and if anything, the whole thing only gets worse.  
Anyone Know the Number of a Good Chinese Take-Out Place?
Besides being completely devoid of any flavor except black pepper, this rice bowl is also in desperate need of some sauce, as it is so dry that it is all we can do not to dump the remainders of our four dipping sauces into the bowl.
In Need of At Least 84 More Egg Yolks
Lest you fear that we are just too full from the rest of our evening's eating to properly enjoy the rice bowl, when we escort all of our leftovers to Chianti's apartment and consume them the next day, the rice bowl is, if anything, even worse.  
PS We Finally Unearthed the Rest of the Noodles From Their Preponderance of Accessories
Even drier and more peppery, it is only refraining from one-star status because perhaps, just perhaps, the asparagus version is one-hundred times better.  But if it is, Vodka will never know, as she has no intention of returning to Revel ever again.  Because you know what?  Homie don't care.

Revel's Rice Bowl: 2 stars

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